Chris Goodall's report on "Peak Stuff"

Anyone who's sat through first-year economics knows societies have to consume to grow. But we may need to rewrite the Economics 101 textbook. We speak with a man who believes we can grow without increasing consumption. In fact, we may already be doing it.



Part Three of The Current

Chris Goodall's report on "Peak Stuff"

We started this segment with the sound of a war zone, the aftermath of a terror attack, or the panic following a natural disaster. It's a frenzied crowd of shoppers at a California Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

To some ears, it's the healthy sound of consumers driving the economy. To others, it's capitalism run amok and a warning the economic system is out of balance with our well-being.

Environmentalists, and some economists, have argued that placing a premium on economic growth places the earth in danger by degrading the environment. Others point to resource depletion as consumption increases -- peak oil, peak soil, and you could add to that peak copper, peak potash or any number of resources.

But fears that our way of life is unsustainable could be mitigated by a hypothesis floated by Chris Goodall in a new research paper called Peak Stuff. He's an independent researcher and the author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet and How To Live a Low-Carbon Life. And as part of our Game Changer project, Chris Goodall joined us from our London studio.

Environmentalist George Monbiot, the author of Heat: How To Stop the Planet from Burning, recently wrote about his reaction to Chris Goodall's Peak Stuff paper in his column in the Guardian newspaper. George Monbiot joined us from Oxford.

The peak stuff theory suggests that not only is economic growth becoming decoupled from consumption, but that people are decoupling their sense of satisfaction with life from consumerism. For more on that, we were joined by Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and the director of the Personality and Well-Being Lab.

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Last Word - Air Farce Christmas Story

As we enter the season of goodwill, people are anxious to wish their neighbours the best without excluding anyone or causing offence. Roger Abbott dealt with the problem on the Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Roger died in March and we miss his comic edge. The Last Word today goes to Roger Abbott and his politically correct telling of the Christmas story.


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